Week 87 – Preachin’ in the Sun
May 16, 2016
This past week was one of the sunniest weeks of my whole mission, it was 70 degrees and sunny the whole week, except for a little bit of rain last night. It was awesome! 70 degrees + sunny = perfect for missionary work.
Elder Torres is a STUD. I love him a ton. We are doing awesome out here in Nevada, and his desire to be a great missionary is bigger than his smile! He is willing to do whatever it takes to learn and grow and to have success. We've had a lot of fun together.
Sadly, the Luciano Girl was NOT baptized this past weekend because at the last minute they were evicted out of their apartment and were forced to find a new one and move everything in about 3 days...so needless to say the family was super stressed. We went over and helped move Saturday morning for a little bit and they were grateful for our help. A quick word of advice for anyone moving into an apartment: the first floor is the best; the third floor is not worth it just for the view... We did, however, postpone the baptism for Saturday the 28th of May, so they are on board for that date now and hopefully they won't have any more difficulties between now and then.
Francisco is doing great. He made it to church yesterday without any car trouble or anything, and loved it like always. He is lots of fun to teach, because his desire to learn is HUGE, he just eats up whatever we spit at him. We could tell him that at church we worship pigs and listen to heavy metal songs and he would probably believe us. (Just kidding…because then the Spirit would be gone and then he wouldn't believe anything - haha!!)
We also have been teaching this new investigator named Rosy, who is SUPER solid. She is like in her 30’s and she has been gobbling up the gospel. She came to church for the first time yesterday and loved it, and wants to be baptized. The only problem...she is moving back to Mexico long term at the end of the month because her Visa here in the US expires. So we are hoping that she can find the missionaries down in Mexico and join the church down there.
We had a few hard days this week, with appointments falling through and people not keeping their commitments, but then yesterday we had a great day with three investigators at church and a whole family who hasn’t been coming in a while. We spent a few hours street contacting and found a handful of new potential investigators, and had some BOMB carne asada tacos for dinner, and then finished off the night with a way good fireside in Spanish. It’s funny how in the moment, the hard times seem REALLY tough, like they are never going to end. But then in hindsight, they were just a split second. The good ALWAYS outweighs the bad.
Last night was a special night for me at the fireside we attended. It was a fireside for all of the Spanish Branches in the area (there are three – our branch, Sparks, and Sun Valley). We were hoping to get a big turnout, but only about 50 people showed up. We had ALL of our original speakers cancel on us, but then Sunday morning we started scrambling around to find some speakers. One of the speakers that ended up speaking was Laura, from Sun Valley!! She bore a powerful testimony about how she found out that the church was true. It was funny to hear her conversion from her side of the story, because the two of us sat in the same lessons and had the same experiences, but we both learned different lessons, and remembered different things. She did recall the scripture that we shared with her from Mosiah 18:10, and how that was the turning point from when she didn't want to be baptized, to when she did want to be baptized. After the meeting Laura came up to me and said that her goal is go get to the temple before I go home. There is no doubt in my mind that the fireside last night was more for myself and for Laura than anyone. I hope and want more than ANYthing that they can get sealed in the temple.
This past Friday was the monthly MLC meeting, and it was probably my last one because usually District Leaders aren't invited, but this past one they invited all of us DLs because the mission department came and spent three days in our mission, and they concluded their "observation" with an MLC meeting. They sent two representatives to come and observe some of the missionaries in the mission and they spent lots of time with President and Sister Chesnut. It was a great meeting. It was interesting, because their teaching was more on the logistical and practical side of missionary work, instead of the spiritual side of it. The guys who came hold other callings in the church, but it’s their actual job to teach us and train us – they work for the church and get paid for it. When general authorities have come in the past it was the opposite, not as much practical application but more spiritual knowledge. So it is good to get some of both. They taught us a lot about planning and how important good, in-depth planning for our investigators is. Currently in our mission, we need to find on average 20 new investigators to have one baptism. They told us and promised us that if we had better, more effective planning, we can double our baptisms, and change that to 10 to 1 ratio.
They also talked about how our main purpose is to help people get baptized. Too many missionaries waste their time teaching people who aren't progressing and who don't have real intent. To some it might seem like having lots of investigators is a good thing, but we have to make sure they are all truly interested. Satan wants to fill up our teaching pool with people who are not prepared so that we waste our time. The Lord teaches us MANY different times in the scriptures of the importance of baptism, in the Bible, in the Book of Mormon, and in the Doctrine and Covenants. Jesus Christ himself commissions us (as his full-time servants) in all three places basically the exact same thing:
"Go ye into all the world, and preach my gospel unto every creature who has not received it; And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not, and is not baptized, shall be damned."
Pretty straight forward…we are to help people get baptized, and if they don't want to, then that is their choice, and they are stopping their own spiritual progression. So basically they taught us that even if investigators like our visits, if they are not ready to be baptized, then we shouldn't be spending lots of time with them. It is the Lord's job to prepare people to be baptized, and it is our job to find and teach those who are ready. This principle makes so much sense to me, because too often I have tried to basically force people to accept the gospel, but that is not how it works at all. I will always remember one of Dad's letters to me, where he explained the same thing, and how Jesus Christ never forced anyone to follow him or to accept Him; He is just always standing there with open arms. He never tricked anyone to follow Him or made them feel guilty if they didn't want to follow him, he is always just standing and waiting, ready to receive us whenever we choose to follow him. "Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you." Alma 5:33
I know that truly baptism is the gate and the door to our spiritual progression, and it is a very important step, but it is not the last, rather it is one of the very first steps. I also know that baptism by proper Priesthood authority is key. Any other baptism does not unlock the door to the celestial kingdom. I know that Joseph Smith received that priesthood authority from John the Baptist as part of the Restoration of the Gospel, and I know that we have that authority still on the earth today.
This Church is true, folks! I know it is.
Have a great week – I love you!